2014 in review

Can’t believe it’s this time of the year again! The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. ūüėÄ

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Are you supported? Friendship and passing 27,000 hits!

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Okay, this is not a blog post about supportive bras (sorry guys!), but it is about friendship and support. Do you have people who support you or leave you swinging in the wind?

I am absolutely THRILLED that my¬†tiny little blog has now passed 27,000 visitors and want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who have supported this blog, whether you are a one-off fly-by visitor or a regular ‘pull up a chair and chillax’ visitor. You guys are utterly AMAZEBALLS!!!! ūüėÄ xxx

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Well, although this is a time of great changes and sparkly new horizons, all of them positive – like the brand new job and scary new career I’ve just embarked on¬†after having been a full-time teacher for the last 16 yrs; I admit that this post is a bit of a ‘moan-fest’, something I don’t do very often. But I’m¬†eventually venting¬†about something that has bugged the crap out of me for the last two years.

It’s funny, I was recently reading a very heartfelt and extraordinary post by brilliant fantasy writer, Tricia Drammeh, all about how important it is to be supported by family and friends. The post really struck a chord with me, as it did for so¬†many other¬†writers: http://blog.triciadrammeh.com/2014/05/21/when-your-family-doesnt-support-your-writing/ Please check out the rest of Tricia’s wonderful blog: http://blog.triciadrammeh.com/

Although writing can be exhilarating, life-changing, life-affirming and just a wonderfully fulfilling¬†creative ride…it can also be incredibly isolating, lonely, frustrating, un-rewarding, demoralising and difficult. That rollercoaster journey of success, failure, hopes and¬†dreams, both realised or crushed, is hard enough as it is, but the journey becomes all the more difficult if you are embarking on your creative path without the support of nearest and dearest.

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Now, I count myself as being very lucky, as my family even including Aunts and Uncles, have been incredibly supportive and encouraging of my writing journey. But, like many other writers,¬† I too have experienced the opposite. Despite the majority of my friends being amazingly supportive, more than I could ever have hoped for, strangely enough my oldest ‘best friend’ of the last 20 yrs+ has been pretty dreadful.

Daft I know, but it has not only plagued me, but deeply hurt and upset me. I can openly say her name, Joanna, why? Because I know that¬†she will never ever read this. She knows nothing of my writing life and doesn’t care. She doesn’t know that I have a blog, let alone the fact that my little blog has attracted¬†over 27,000 visitors since I started it in Jan 2012. She doesn’t know that I’m on Facebook at all, have a FB book page with over 1,000 likes, have countless followers on Pinterest, set up my own Illustration business, recently had a short story published in a wonderful anthology, Felinity by Grimbold Books.¬†41wpCDigqbL[1]She was vaguely aware (though no doubt she has forgotten) that I did a very¬†successful Waterstone’s book signing tour in 2012, but wouldn’t know what towns and cities I visited and certainly didn’t bother attending the one just down the road from where she lives.

Again, Tricia Drammeh’s post really resonated with me. For the last 20+yrs I have supported Jo through thick and thin, for every success, every failure, every relationship, every drama – no matter how big or miniscule. I send cards to congratulate, commiserate or just to buck her up and say I’m thinking of her, even cards when she moves from one rented property in her town, to another just down the road. She is an only child, which in itself shouldn’t mean anything, except to say that in her case she is selfish and totally self-obsessed and has always been used to being the centre of attention and having people ‘do for her’. Now, the silly thing is, I never minded playing second fiddle, being the ‘listening ear’, the sympathetic shoulder, the invisible person who always supports her. I didn’t mind the fact that our friendship was always so one-sided, all about her, never about me. BUT, in 2012 something big happened in my life, the biggest thing that had ever happened to me – my first novel was published.

At the time I tried not to be hurt when I received congratulations¬†cards and even flowers from ALL of my friends, even work colleagues and people I didn’t know well, everyone I knew¬†EXCEPT from her. My novel was available for a limited time to pre-order, and by doing so the people who pre-ordered could have their name printed inside the book. Again, all my friends raced to purchase their pre-ordered copy, but Jo? Despite months of gentle hinting, she didn’t, eventually, with only days to spare,¬†I plucked up the courage to be more assertive and asked her (knowing the answer), if she had bought a copy yet as the deadline was coming up. I had to literally twist her arm. Whereas my close mate, Heather (totally lovely), was the first to buy a copy, Jo was the absolute last. I couldn’t believe how totally and blatantly uninterested and unsupportive she was being, just because for once this was something to do with me and not her. Months continued like this, all my friends asking about the upcoming publication date, wanting to read excerpts, wanting to be involved in any way they could, but Jo, nothing. She never asked questions, never brought it up, it was like the 500 pound elephant in the room, all conversations reverted to the usual drone about her love life, wanting to lose weight, talking about food and Tesco’s or her long list of imagined ills and troubles – i.e. all about her as usual.

I admit, for the first time ever, my rose-tinted glasses that had been superglued to my head, actually came off and I saw clearly how completely skewed our relationship had become.

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I had visited her down in Devon in the summer of 2012, which was once again a visit ‘all about Jo’¬†and been shocked and embarrassed when we visited her other friend (who she see’s every few days) and Jo quickly blurted out in the car on the way there that her friend knew nothing about my book so I’d have to tell her. It just re-affirmed how unimportant it was and I was. Bear in mind too, that¬†her ‘friend’¬†had dabbled in writing for years and has always been a jealous sort, so you can imagine how she reacted to the news. This, btw, was after Jo had admitted to¬†me that she gave her copy of my book away to some guy in Totnes.

Publication day came and went and nothing, no congratulations, no acknowledgement even. Again, in very rare excerpts, I had tried talking about my writing and my new novel and told her I was having a big book launch at Cirencester. I knew she had no dates that clashed with it, but I also knew, from her total silence on the subject, that she had no intention of coming. She would rather spend the weekend with her bf of the time than support her best mate.

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The day of the book launch came and like a fool I was still hoping to see her walk through the door, of course she didn’t. Instead, ALL my family and friends came ‘en mass’, dear Heather travelled nearly two hours with her two little babies to attend, my dear dear Lindsey (who I had never met at that time) travelled for two hours to support, my wonderful close mate, Will Macmillan Jones travelled all the way from deepest darkest Wales to be there, everyone EXCEPT for Jo. The book launch was a huge success and sold out in just over an hour, but still, all I could think about was Jo.

And so it continued.

Then I got a true glimpse into why Jo¬†was behaving the way she was. She visited my place with her chain-smoking obnoxious bf at the time. We went for lunch and during lunch I was shocked to have this bf ask me about my book, something Jo never did. I soon understood why. During the lunch I was then subjected to a full-on interrogation. The bf asked me a flurry of aggressive questions about¬†my book, I tried to ignore his condescending tone. As soon as I tried to answer, he just interrupted me with comments like, “Humph, sounds like every other book I’ve read”, “Sounds just like Harry Potter” (which I have NEVER read and don’t personally like) “But what exactly makes it different?”, “You haven’t answered my question!”, “Who did you get your ideas from?” etc., etc. I was being bombarded, I looked across at Jo who not only hadn’t come to my rescue and told her offish bf to BACK¬†THE F**K¬†OFF, but was sitting there, arms folded, totally silent and with the most awful smug expression on her face. Cheshire cat comes to mind. ūüė¶ grinning-chesire-cat[1]

It suddenly dawned on me…these disparaging remarks, the belittling, the arrogance, the condescending attitude, all of it could only have come from Jo. Those were her words spoken through him.

It was finally clear where her lack of support came from, she thought I was an idiot, an immature fool following childish dreams. Who the hell did I think I was – pretending to be a writer? Did I think I was going to be the next big thing? Delusions of grandeur or what? The feeling of disdain, palpable embarrassment¬†towards me,¬†her sad little friend deluding herself into thinking she had achieved something, that I was ‘an author’. I struggled through the lunch, said my courteous goodbyes and burst into tears the moment they left. I felt utterly crushed. ūüė¶

Ever since then, even though her nasty bf then dumped her a few months later, I swore I’d never talk to her about my writing/books again, and I haven’t. It hasn’t been hard as she¬†isn’t interested¬†and never asks. So, we carry on, me going through the motions of a friendship that now seems so hollow. More Jo dramas to support, more imagined problems, exaggerated health issues (which magically only arose when I became ill last year), all the things that still keep Jo at the centre, where she likes to be. Meanwhile and by stark contrast, my real friends are exactly that, REAL. We support each other and can talk to each other about anything. And again, because¬†I know Jo isn’t interested in anything other than herself, I’ve stopped talking to her about anything important to me, about my new job, my plans for the future, my family, any of it. Our last conversation was, as usual, all about her, her ‘bad back’, her problems, etc., etc.

3b61948569022d0457a6b60ad7d39393[1]Yes, I know I should have the guts to simply be honest and have it out with her, but frankly I’ve been worn down by it all. I have great friends around me, I’ve just eventually realised, despite the length of our friendship, that Jo isn’t one of them. ūüė¶

So ‘moan-fest’ over, promise.

How do YOU deal with disappointment and lack of support from those you call friends? How do you move forward?

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THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR LISTENING TO THIS ‘LETTER TO JO’. ūüėÄ xxxx

2013 in review…a tough year, but the future awaits!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,900 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

A month of dreams, dizzyness…and passing 13,000!

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While those¬†who know me best, know that I tend to roll my sleeves up and just ‘get on with it’. I must admit to having found myself incapacitated recently, a feeling I am NOT used to. No matter how rotten I may be feeling with colds, flu’s, even toothache, I tend to put a brave (often smiling)¬†face on it and just dig deep and carry on – it’s that whole daft ‘stiff upper lip’ mentally we British feel obliged to follow.

“Keep calm, carry on!”

I am if nothing else, a hard worker and a pragmatist who likes to make progress and achieve my goals,¬†even if it’s against the odds. So, imagine my frustration when something comes along that really stops me in my tracks…I speak of the curse of labyrinthitis.

Vestibular SystemSuddenly the simplest tasks that you take for granted become impossible, looking at the television, a mobile, or a computer screen, all incurs dizziness. All you can do is just¬†lie or sit still and hope that it passes. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.

But as with all things in life…it’s relative. Just as I was feeling particularly poorly and sorry for myself, I got a sharp reminder that as conditions go, there are FAR worse so I shouldn’t complain. I’ve had dear friends touched by the insidious hand of cancer, who have struggled against that disease with such stern determination and grace, and others fighting type 1 diabetes who take each obstacle in their stride.

wild daffodilsSo, no moans and groans…I shall be thankful for the sunshine, the signs of spring bursting eagerly from beneath leaf mounds and mud, the streaks of blue sky between the cloud, the wild ducks that fly in and argue loudly on the lawn and the fact that my lonely moorhen has found himself a new wife after the cruelty of a harsh winter and hunting mink. SAM_2277

Forget sickness, forget¬†feeling rather low and tearful, life is a wondrous marvel and even if I can’t do very much at the moment, I shall breathe deep and drink in every moment of it and be thankful for small miracles.

Here are just three marvellous moments that have happened in the last few weeks.

file000267804564 (2)Firstly and for no apparent reason at all, other than the strange whimsical nature of the web, my lovely little blog had an amazing few days! From attracting nearly 900 visitors on one day, it then attracted 2,386 the next!!!! Pushing my little blog past 13,000 visitors!

Wow, wow and wow!!!

Then my short story, ‘The Wishing Tree’ was¬†selected by ReadWave¬†http://www.readwave.com/ to be part of their Staff Picks, for tnew photos 236 (2)he very¬† best¬†stories.

Check it out guys, oh and please ‘LIKE’! ¬†http://www.readwave.com/the-wishing-tree-_s2532

I’ve also been featured twice¬†by¬†fellow author, the wonderful Lisa Scullard for her new¬†Hard Ink Cafe blog http://hardinkcafe.wordpress.com/¬†as ‘Author of the Day’ http://hardinkcafe.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/author-of-the-day-sophie-e-tallis/¬†and again¬†http://hardinkcafe.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/author-essentials-keep-only-the-best-company/

Oh…and it’s featured in The Bedlam Media Daily too in the leisure section! http://paper.li/bedlam_media/1315567686#!leisure

So before my dizziness returns, I just want to say a heartfelt and massive THANK YOU to you all!!!!! You really are the BEST!!!

Here’s a little something to make you all smile…The Cream’s ‘Sunshine of Your Love’…rock it boys!!!!

http://youtu.be/Cqh54rSzheg

ūüėÄ xxxx

What a year! 2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 14 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Celebration! My 100th post and zooming past 7000 hits!

Love

Celebrations come in all sizes…small and intimate to the grandiose, and in all colours – from little¬†hints of pastel, hues to match your mood,¬†to the vibrancy of¬†fireworks¬†or the acid¬†splashes of billowing streamers and balloons.

Well, this is a little celebration for a little achievement but a very special one to me.

At the end of January 2012 I started this blog. I had no grand intentions at the time, no aspirations beyond wanting to share my passions and thoughts in a random sort of way. Having never been able to adhere to the regimented nature needed to write a daily diary entry, this blog has been as close as I can get to it. A way of making some semblance of sense from my chaotic life, of organising my thoughts and perhaps a forum for discussing creativity, the language of imagination.

Blogs are as individual as their creators. Some become mere extensions of the people behind them, streams of consciousness drifting over the internet. For me, it is that, but is also a place to tell stories, share poetry, life events, illuminate my journey to becoming a published writer and all the strange oddities that happen to you along the way.

A little nook n’ cranny amidst the¬†ebbing flow of the web. An¬†ocean of information and dead-ends, a place to get lost in or be swallowed whole…

This is a little modest blog, unassuming, not showy, a welcoming and cosy snug with an over-sized hearth and a shabby rug which reeks of candle smoke and coal but a place which promises warmth and comfort, good advice and honesty. A home of creative thinking (hopefully) and somewhere simply to be.

To ponder…isn’t that what every writer does? To ponder, to think, to imagine, to dream…ahhhh…per chance to dream!

So, on this my 100th post, I say a genuine heartfelt thank you¬†to every passing visitor, every friend and acquaintance, every fly-by¬†one stop blogger, every lingerer, lurker or frequent returner…

THANK YOU!         THANK YOU!         THANK YOU!

Love

Dodging boomerangs, celebrating and passing 6,000!!!!

Strange how life throws boomerangs at you periodically.

You get something really great that happens to you and then you get a bunch of obstacles and unforeseen difficulties that get in the way.

How did Dickens describe it? It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

It’s just life, eh?

Recently I’ve had one of the best days of my life, my wonderful book launch at Octavia’s Bookshop www.octaviasbookshop.co.uk a little over a¬†week ago, which to my utter delight was a complete sell out! Yes, we sold out of every book in just over an hour!!

Then, despite wanting desperately to publicise and promote my novel and all the wonderful things that have happened, I’ve been struck down this week by severe migraines and sickness! Ughhh…I found myself saying “I don’t have time to be ill!” But of course, your body has a way of saying, “STOP!”

I hate being ill as we all do and I never, never take time off work…but have spent the last few days curled up in bed with the curtains drawn, like some oversized dormouse. Ughhh.

Juggling life, work and stress is tricky at the best of times but throw in illness and it’s a kicker.

So, it is with total unbridled joy that with a bag of frozen peas on my head, I popped onto the computer and saw that my beloved little blog has passed the 6,000 visitors mark!!!

I am SOOOOOOO thrilled and delighted and genuinely touched by all the amazing support I’ve received from friends and strangers a like!

Thank you to everyone who has dropped by this little blog to say hello, to hang out for a while, or just to whizz by. Whether you are frequent visitors or one-time passers-by, thank you, thank you, thank you!

I won’t share my migraines, but I’ll happily share the LOVE!!!!!

Thank you guys! ūüėÄ xx